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J.J. Abrams
Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Laurence Fishburne
Writing Credits:
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, J.J. Abrams, Bruce Geller (television series)

Retired from active duty, former spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) now spends his time training IMF agents. But when a lunatic arms dealer named Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) threatens the life of his protégé, Lindsay (Keri Russell), the superspy gathers his crew — old buddy Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames), transportation ace Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and underground operative Zhen (Maggie Q) — to bring her back to safety. Doing so, however, causes Davian to go after Hunt's wife-to-be, Julia (Michelle Monaghan).

Box Office:
$150 million.
Opening Weekend
$47.743 million on 4054 screens.
Domestic Gross
$133.382 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 125 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 8/3/2010

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director JJ Abrams and Producer/Actor Tom Cruise


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Mission: Impossible III [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 14, 2015)

As Tom Cruise quickly entered Wacko Jacko territory and became better known as a weird celebrity than as a performer, we saw how this affected box office receipts. Cruise’s nuttiness didn’t seem to have a substantial impact on 2005’s War of the Worlds, though it became tough to gauge whether the actor’s behavior did lower receipts. Worlds snagged a tidy $234 million, but perhaps it would have made even more without Cruise’s various controversies.

With 2006’s Mission: Impossible III, it became more likely that the increasing public perception of Cruise as a weirdo negatively impacted the film’s profits. Despite very positive reviews, Mission 3 only took in $133 million at the box office. I recognize that “only” is a relative judgment, as plenty of movies would kill for that kind of take. However, given the film’s pedigree, budget and expectations, $133 million clearly turned into a disappointment.

All of that’s too bad, for M:I III unquestionably offered the best of the first three flicks. The film starts with a scary scene in which Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) begs Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) not to kill a babe named Julia (Michelle Monaghan).

Right in the middle of a tense moment, the flick cuts and heads back into the past. We find out that Ethan and Julia are engaged, but she doesn’t know about his real job. He claims to work for the Department of Transportation and hides his secret agent life.

Actually, the active hero of the first two movies has become more of a desk jockey, as Ethan now primarily trains new recruits. His superior John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) lures him back into the field when Davian captures Ethan’s star pupil Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell). Ethan takes a team that includes old partner Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) with younger agents Zhen Lei (Maggie Q) and Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).

Although the group manages to extract Lindsey, she dies when they can’t disable a little explosive device in her head. This sets Ethan on a mission of revenge to get back at Davian for what he did to Lindsey. We watch the team track Davian to Vatican City and find out that the baddie pursues a secret device known as the “Rabbit’s Foot”. The rest of the movie follows Ethan’s pursuit of Davian and the “Rabbit’s Foot” as the story progresses toward and beyond the perilous scene that launches the flick.

How many times does a series’ third entry prove to be its best? Rarely, if ever. One could argue that Goldfinger remains the top Bond flick, and if we view Revenge of the Sith as the third of the Star Wars prequels – and not the sixth in that series – then it would stand as the top effort. I also would narrowly put Dark Knight Rises below Dark Knight.

As I indicated at the start of my review, I definitely see M:I III as the best of its series, and there’s a lot of distance between it and the others. I liked the first movie and M:I:2 to a reasonable degree, but I think both suffer from significant flaws. The original film just never really soars, while the first sequel simply takes way too long to go anywhere.

M:I III doesn’t suffer from either of those problems. Instead, it grabs us from minute one and never loosens its grip on us. When I saw the flick theatrically, I’d indulged in too much pre-flick Diet Coke and needed to whiz before too long. I waited for a moment that felt like it’d give me the respite needed to zip to the restroom and not miss too much, but that time never came. I finally gave in and went anyway, but the film doesn’t provide long stretches of potential bathroom breaks.

Indeed, any slightly slow spots can be measured in seconds, not minutes. Without question, M:I III offers a relentless film. It doesn’t pound us with mind-numbing action, but it maintains a brisk and thrilling pace that makes every moment count.

Though this easily could have become too much and have worn down the audience before the movie's climax, the flick manages to ease off the pedal just enough along the way to allow us to breathe. We don’t get deep breaths, but at least we don’t feel like the movie batters us.

It really does create a heck of a thrill ride, though. M:I III manages to offer plenty of neat twists on the usual action sequences and it constantly surprises us. Just when we think the story will go one way, it twists in a different direction. Although the action never proves especially revelatory or innovative, it plays with conventions just enough to feel fresh.

The early killing of Lindsey helps keep us off-guard as well. When we see a sweet presence like Russell on the screen, we assume she’ll escape unharmed. Her death tells us that all bets are off and we can’t count on the usual assumptions. Though all of our movie-going instincts tell us that Ethan and Julia will eventually ride off into the sunset, the demise of Lindsey ensures we won’t ever feel too comfortable with our convictions.

The first flick in the series created after 9/11, M:I III makes nods in the direction of the post-2001 world but doesn’t dwell on them. I like that fact. It would have been easy for the filmmakers to provoke cheap sentiment and emotion with 9/11 evocations, but it never heads down that path. The movie glances in that direction just enough to prove believable. A story of this sort with no indications of changes enacted in the prior five years would be even less acceptable than one that dwells on that area. The film manages a nice balance.

A strong cast bolsters the experience, and Hoffman stands as the best of the bunch. Fresh off his Oscar-winning turn in Capote, Hoffman gets surprisingly little screen time. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the opening sequence appears mainly to make sure we don’t have to wait more than 45 minutes for his character’s introduction.

In any case, Hoffman clearly makes the most of his moments. Ala Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, Hoffman takes a relatively small role and still manages to dominate the film. He never camps it up or views the role as beneath him. Though not exactly a physical presence – the actor is best described as “doughy” – Hoffman makes Davian cruel, intimidating and scary.

Frankly, I find it hard to think of anything that M:I III does wrong. That doesn’t mean I view it as a perfect film, but it does signal that the flick maintains a consistently high level of quality. Heck, just like in the enjoyable War of the Worlds, I was able to ignore my feelings toward Cruise and accept him in the part. M:I III provides a killer action experience with all the meat and little of the fat.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-

Mission: Impossible: III appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A release from early in Blu-ray’s existence, the image looked good but not great.

I thought sharpness appeared solid most of the time. Occasional soft spots occurred, usually during interiors. However, most of the movie seemed concise and accurate. Jagged edges and moiré effects weren’t an issue, and I noticed no edge haloes. Print flaws created no problems, though, as the movie suffered from no signs of source defects.

Much of the time, M:I III featured a fairly desaturated image. It preferred a somewhat blown-out look, with an emphasis on a chilly blue tint much of the time. Livelier colors still crept through at times, though, and the palette design came out well for the material. The disc appeared to present the colors as intended, and they worked fine in that realm.

Black levels looked dark and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately opaque but not too thick. Low-light sequences were clear and distinct. The smattering of soft shots turned into the only concern here, so this was a “B” presentation.

When I examined the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Mission: Impossible III, I found it to work well. The soundfield presented an active and lively piece that almost constantly engaged the five main speakers. The film showed distinctive imagery throughout the movie that placed different auditory elements accurately within the spectrum and meshed them together nicely.

Music provided strong stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the appropriate locations. Quieter scenes displayed natural ambience, while the many action pieces involved engrossing and vibrant imaging. It became tough to pick a favorite sequence, but the Bay Bridge attack probably remained my favorite due to the sheer impact of its chaos.

Audio quality also seemed positive. Speech consistently appeared natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded bright and dynamic as the disc neatly replicated the score. Effects packed a nice wallop when necessary, as these elements seemed clean and distinct at all times. Bass response came across as deep and tight, and the low-end added a good layer of depth and oomph to the package. I thought this was a consistently solid soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD release? Audio was identical – literally, as the Blu-ray’s lack of lossless option meant no change in the DVD’s track. I still liked the Dolby Digital mix, but I was disappointed the Blu-ray lacked a lossless track.

Visuals showed the expected improvements, especially in terms of definition. Colors were also a bit stronger, but mostly I appreciated the Blu-ray’s step up in terms of sharpness.

Back in 2006, the original Mission 3 Blu-ray was a two-disc affair that the same extras as the DVD I reviewed back then. However, it appears that release is now out of print, and fans can only buy a single-disc release.

This means only one of the bonus features from the 2006 DVD and BD appears here: an audio commentary with writer/director JJ Abrams and producer/actor Tom Cruise. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss the opening sequence, sets and locations, cast, characters and acting choices, story issues and cut scenes, visual effects, stunts and action bits, and general production topics.

Can you feel the love tonight? You will if you screen this commentary. Although some reasonably interesting notes emerge along the way, pure praise dominates this piece. Cruise and Abrams constantly talk about how much they love this or how good that is.

I can tolerate a little of this, but the tendency toward happy talk is off the charts here. Granted, this trend declines a bit as the movie progresses, so matters improve as they go. Nonetheless, the ridiculous amount of praise makes this commentary less than satisfying.

For Mission: Impossible III, the third time is the charm. Both of the first two movies were good, but this one takes things to another level and proves more satisfying in almost every possible way. The Blu-ray offers pretty good visuals, and the audio works fine, though I remain disappointed by the absence of a lossless track. This single-disc release lacks almost all of the earlier sets’ supplements, unfortunately. This Blu-ray delivers a positive visual upgrade compared to the DVD, but it’s not superior in other ways.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III

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